Magical things happen to me in hair salons.
My gray hair disappears, splint ends fall to the floor and I love watching clients and hairdressers exchange confidences that make each of them feel a little bit better about what is happening in their lives.
This past weekend I experienced a different kind of magic; the magic of connecting and going with the flow of the moment.
As I entered my tried and true hair salon, I was looking forward to a much needed hairdo transformation. It was probably closer to a hair color intervention because the summer sun had bonded so nicely with all the chemicals in my hair that my hair looked totally stiff and brassy.
A hair appointment on a Sunday morning is a squeeze for me but sometimes I have no choice because I am busy working full-time and then I have other personal commitments chasing after me. By the time I get myself to the hair salon, I am usually in bad shape. This past Sunday I was just happy to be there and let my hairdresser do what she does best.
Things were going along much as they usually do: the sweet acidic smells of shampoo and hairspray, dance music pulsing in the air, chit chat and catch-up time about families and other stuff and then on to the more serious business of what I want done to my hair.
While waiting for the haircolor to grab onto my head of gray hairs and casually checking my iPhone, the talented Asian woman who always brings my hair back to life told me that right now, right as she was working on my hair, her mother, whom she had not see in almost ten years, was landing at Dulles International Airport.
“Oh no. I’m sorry,” I said. “I could have made my appointment for another time. You should have taken today off to go to the airport to meet your Mom.”
“No. That’s okay,” the hairdresser said. “My brother is picking her up and besides, I have appointments for the afternoon so I will see my mom later today. She is coming to visit because today is special. It’s the 19th anniversary of my father’s death.”
We looked at each other in the mirror. She nodded her head and raised her eyebrows indicating, yes, it’s true. Now I really felt bad. She was not only working while her mother was arriving at the airport but her father died on this date 19 years ago.
But she wasn’t upset. She smiled and continued to work on my hair as she talked about her Dad and how he was a doctor and how even though he knew better he made a lot of bad health choices for himself which caused his death while he was in his 60’s.
I didn’t interrupt her or ask questions. I listened quietly as I could tell that while she was talking about her Dad that she was re-living memories of him and that was providing comfort.
This may sound like it was a sad conversation but it really wasn’t sad or depressing. Not at all.
In fact, it brought home to me the need that we all feel within ourselves to connect with each other; spontaneously, even while doing routine things and how we yearn to feel that our life experiences are bigger than ourselves.
Listening and receiving the stories of others can happen anywhere at anytime — even in a fog of hairspray — and those same stories can offer us valuable insight about how another person acknowledges and handles the pain of loss and then learns to honor it.